Tuesday, November 18, 2014

T-t-t-today junior

I've been thinking about how awful the last two US presidents have been at speaking interactively in public. Given that it constitutes a not insignificant portion of what they do (and what they've done with some regularity prior to ascending to the highest political office in the country), I'd have trouble believing it if I hadn't witnessed it for the entirety of my adult life.

Obama has a good presentation when it comes to reading what the teleprompter tells him to say (Bush could hardly even manage that), but when it comes to giving interviews or pressers, they both consistently sound like stammering buffoons:

It doesn't feel like an exaggeration to presume that a significant portion of readers could give more polished, intelligible performances than the most recent putative leaders of the free world have been able to.

It might be that politicians on the national stage are so restricted in what they say that very little can ever really sound candid or coherent. More cynically, maybe they don't actually spend any time other than when they're actually in front of the public thinking in the sorts of generic platitudes they regularly feed us and so genuinely aren't familiar with the material.

In that same vein, Jokah Macpherson adds that "the most likely explanation is that public speaking doesn't have much payoff in politics. The most successful politicians are more likely the ones that can win over the right people (lobbyists, party leaders, etc) through charm one-on-one. There's a minimum level of competence necessary but few people change votes based on good speaking delivery."

More cynically still, perhaps it's that the most successful politicians can be won over and reliably used as marionettes by said lobbyists and party leaders.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Secession Strategy

Pat Buchanan riffing on the results of 2014 mid-term elections in the US:
As Jeremy Peters of the New York Times wrote in the paper’s lead story a week before the elections:
“Democrats in the closest Senate races in the South are turning to racially charged messages — invoking Trayvon Martin, the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Jim-Crow era segregation. 
“The images and words they are using are striking for how overtly they play on fears of intimidation and repression.” 
The ads worked. But while Dixie Democrats rolled up landslides among black voters, Michelle Nunn, daughter of Sen. Sam Nunn, carried only 27 percent of the white vote in Georgia, and was wiped out. 
As ethnonationalism pulls at the seams of many countries of Europe, it would appear it is also present here in the United States. When political appeals on the basis of race and ethnicity are being made openly by liberal Democrats, as in 2014, we are on a road that ends in a racial-ethnic spoils system — and national disintegration.
The way to get to national breakup from where we are now is to have non-Southern whites follow the political trail blazed by Southern whites over the last four decades. Over that period of time they've only tiptoed in that direction through the Reagan years and have more-or-less stayed put since then. It's an open question as to whether or not whites will continue to vote for a Democratic party in which they, and by extension their interests--both practical and ideological--have become a minority in the disaffected coalition.

The implementation of the "Southern Strategy" Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater first adopted in the late sixties meshes pretty well with the inception of the GSS, which began in 1972. The following graph shows mean partisan affiliation among whites in the South (West South Central, East South Central, and South Atlantic regions in Census terminology) and whites in the rest of the country over the last forty years. Affiliation is on a 0-6 scale with 0 being "strong Democrat" and 6 being "strong Republican":

This trend--most exemplified in the Deep South states of Alabama and Mississippi, where whites voted against Obama in 2008 by margins of 88%-10% and 88%-11%, respectively--coupled with the region's history, suggests that serious future attempts at secession will first spring to life in the South. Though it surely makes every good SWPL cringe to think that as goes the South, so might go the US, there it is.

Once politics has undeniably devolved into a naked spoils system where demographics is the primary driver of electoral behavior for whites (as it already is for blacks and to a lesser extent for Hispanics), secession will begin to seem less like a bitter, abstract overreaction akin to moving to Canada if George W. Bush is re-elected and more like something as conceivable and palpable as Scotland's narrowly defeated attempt to secede from Great Britain or Catalonia's overwhelming desire to separate from Spain.

GSS variables used: RACE(1), PARTYID, YEAR, REGION(1-4,8-9)(5-7)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hey hey, ho ho, we might just have to get up and go

In the last chapter of an obviously dense but well-written book audaciously entitled A Short History of the World, author Alex Woolf, holding his lituus, notes that "the concept of the nation-state is itself under threat from the ever-growing forces of globalization". I suspect that statement would've met with a lot more credulity in 1994 than it does today. In his defense, the book was published in 2008. Just the intervening six years have been full of evidence enough to give pause to anyone confidently asserting as much.

Using Ipsos-Reuters' interactive public polling site that allows users to create their own cross-tabs shows that, in 2014, the percentages of respondents who either "tend to support" or "strongly support" the idea of their "state peacefully withdrawing from the USA and the federal government" by age range is as follows:


The trend is clear. Younger Americans are less attached to the idea of the United States as a unified political body. Their parents and grandparents were part of something on the rise, something that could boast of heroic achievements like winning world wars and putting men on the moon. Now they see a country where the greatest rewards are given to those who create ever-more engrossing ways to impotently navel-gaze and the importance of achievement is of a distant secondary importance to the identity of the person or group doing the putative achieving.

Keep in mind that this survey data is from 2014, not a year like 2004 when a Republican was in the White House. Indeed, Republicans are more inclined towards secession than Democrats (30.0% and 16.8%, respectively) are, yet the correlation between entertaining ideas of secession and a person's age run in the opposite direction of the correlation between a person's age and his political orientation.

Put in another way, 46.0% of Republicans aged 18-29--almost half of the cohort--support the idea of secession. Secession is more of a generational issue than a partisan one. While only 23.9% of Republicans aged 60 and older like the thought of the country breaking up, 34.0% of Democrats aged 18-29 do.

As the country becomes increasingly economically, linguistically, socially, and culturally diverse, there is less and less to hold the people inside this geographically-defined entity together. Approval ratings for virtually all federal agencies and organizations save for the military are perpetually in the toilet irrespective of which party controls the legislative or executive branches of government. The US is way too big and too disparate to make much sense as anything other than a conveniently large free trade zone today, anyway.

I find this quite encouraging. Salt-of-the-earth Americans need to defend themselves against the actions of wealthy elites who intentionally create incentives and disincentives to push undesirables out of their artificially expensive and restrictive residences and into middle-American suburbs while simultaneously browbeating those same middle-America denizens for not grabbing their ankles like good bitches and ushering in the ruin of their communities and resisting being forced to decide whether to let their kids share classrooms with budding thugs aspiring for criminality or take out a second mortgage to send their children to private schools when a decade prior their public schools were something the community could be and was proud of.

Fuck California, fuck Illinois, and most especially, fuck Washington DC. They're dead broke. They've made tons of promises they can't keep. They made their beds, now let them lie in those beds. Become a new barbarian, because the state doesn't represent you or your interests.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ice people weather

The week's weather forecast for Ferguson, MO:

Now, with the Midwest in the midst of an unseasonable cold snap, might be a good time for the grand jury to publicize its verdict. The population at *ahem* high-risk of rioting isn't known to have much of an affinity for arctic air.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

No surer thing in the world

... than that a black woman wants contraception to be covered by health insurance providers, with 94% in favor and 6% opposed.

Doing a little algebra, it looks like black men supported it about 80%-20%. By a slim margin, even white men were in favor, 53%-47%. The advisory measure passed with broad public support in Illinois, 66%-34%, so it's not like black women are retrogrades on the issue. To the contrary, they're leading the way forward!

And no, it's not quite the most electorally reliable question one could put to a negress--they voted even more heavily for Obama in the last presidential election, 96%-4%. Sensationalist hyperbole, I know. Guilty as charged.